Spam Karma 2 Akismet Plugin BETA

BIG BIG UPDATE:
This plugin is no longer BETA! The location of the zip containing the plugin did not change so just redownload it if you’ve downloaded it before January 31st. Have fun!

If you are a wordpress blogger you probably know about Akismet, the new spam stop solution that Matt Mullenweg announced last week. It’s his try to prevent spam from ever appearing on all those wordpress blogs on this planet. WordPress.com already uses it and you can download it on akismet.com as a plugin for WordPress 1.5.2. All you need is a WordPress.com API key and for that you need a WordPress.com account and for that you need to download Flock (brrr, you know Flock sucks, but it gives you an API key … hurray!) and go to wordpress.com/flock with Flock and sign up. The API key is then located in the profile of your WordPress.com account. So this is a fairly complex way to get and use this super simple plugin of theirs.

Akismet works by sending all new comments to their servers and replying with “true” or “false” if the service thinks it’s spam or not. You can also manually mark comments as spam and recover spam comments (false positives) that are real comments. Both improves Akismet by reporting back the mistake.

While this is a nice approach I don’t like the idea of having only one service to check a comment against. I recently switched to Spam Karma 2 and am very happy with it. It never failed me and successfully sent nearly 900 comments to hell in the last 18 days. But nobody is perfect and checking against Akismet could make Spam Karma 2 even better.

Enter Spam Karma 2 Akismet Plugin :-) (beta test), an additional filter for my favourite spam prevention system (which also lists detected spam in a more readable way).

You can download the BETA (!!!) here: sk2_akismet_plugin.zip

Advanced Settings
Unzip it to your sk2_plugins directory and enter the above mentioned WordPress.com API key in the “General Settings” of this plugin plugin (a plugin in a plugin, sic!). You can finetune (set some boundaries) the plugin in the advanced settings, but the default values should work fine. Nevertheless I’d like feedback on that, too. And on everything else.

The plugin automatically submits detected spam and ham that Akismet got wrong back to Akismet.com which should make the service better with time (it already detects a lot of spam … 80% of all comments are spam they say … but more can’t hurt, right?).

Update:
– Changed some things in the text of this announcement.
– The plugin no longer submits all comments as spam/ham, only the ones where Akismet was wrong.
– Still BETA

Second Update:
– Uploaded a new version which fixes a bug mentioned by Matt in the comments
– Changed the picture to reflect the current version
– Still BETA though ;-)

  • http://unknowngenius/com/blog/ dr Dave

    Woa! This sounds great!

    Thanks so much for contributing… Don’t forget to add yourself in on the wiki page… and contact me when you start feeling confident about a stable public release: I can post something about it on the update feed…

    Thanks

  • http://www.sebbi.de Sebbi

    You’re welcome. I’ll add myself to the wiki once I know it really works as advertised.

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  • http://www.stanley-goodspeed.com Goodspeed

    yeah, in ein paar stunden wirst du ein paar tausend besucher mehr haben….

  • http://photomatt.net/ Matt

    One note, you should only submit ham or spam to akismet if the answer it gave back is not the correct one, so it’s only for mistakes.

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  • http://www.sebbi.de Sebbi

    Thanks Matt for your feedback. I modified to plugin to always check against Akismet.com and only submit as spam/ham if it is wrong (within boundaries). It also submits if a comment gets recovered or moderated in SK2 (and Akismet was wrong).

    I’ll update the posting above in just a second. Still BETA! ;-)

  • http://photomatt.net/ Matt

    Thank you very much. :)

  • http://photomatt.net/ Matt

    Could you check the referrer and URL data? The URL seems to be getting submitted as an Array and the referrer not at all.

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  • http://www.sebbi.de Sebbi

    Ok, fixed all that. Updating the posting.

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  • http://photomatt.net/ Matt

    Thanks for updating that. :)

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  • http://unknowngenius/com/blog/ dr Dave

    Sebbi,

    One last small comment: I understand now you always run it by Akismet in order to know whether Akismet knows it’s spam or ham… You probably should give the option (advanced?) to disable that in order to avoid an unnecessary load for people who want to keep their spam protection lean and mean (akismet + regular sk2 modules might become a bit slow)…

    Cheers and keep up the good work!

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  • http://www.sebbi.de Sebbi

    dr Dave,
    wouldn’t such an option be the same as if the user disabled the filter via the “Strength”-option? Without checking Akismet we should not submit anything, Matt said.

    Possible slowness shouldn’t be a big problem. It would just be a “fsockopen” waiting for an answer and nothing cpu intensive, so it shouldn’t slow down the server, only the commenting-process.

  • http://www.sebbi.de Sebbi

    btw: it already uses the default skip_under and skip_above values, so Akismet gets only checked if the karma is above -15 and below 10 (I removed the advanced option to set these values, because the default values seemed good enough, aren’t they?)

  • http://www.ajaydsouza.com/ Ajay

    Hi Sebbi,

    I just got one question. Do I need to have Akismet installed for your plugin to run or can I do without it?

  • http://www.cappellmeister.com Cappellmeister

    Lass die advanced options lieber drin. Jeder sollte sich seine Schwelle selbst anlegen können, die er einrichten möchte. Nicht jeder fährt Spam Karma mit den Defaultwerten.

  • http://www.sebbi.de Sebbi

    Ajay,
    no you do not need to install the original Akismet plugin.

    Cappellmeister,
    stick to the language of this article, please ;-) But to answer your question: you are using the default values in almost every SK2-filter. Few of them change the values and none of them allows to manually set them in the general settings. So no, I won’t reintroduce that setting. Just set it in the filters php-file if you desperately need to change these values ;-)

  • http://www.stanley-goodspeed.com Goodspeed

    @sebbi: Don´t be so cruel to Capellmeister. We´re only poor german surfer.

    BTW: Plugin is working fine. I´ve got the impression, that now SpamKarma gets more spam than ever. Or is the spam wave bigger than normal?

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  • http://www.sebbi.de Sebbi

    I’m not cruel to anyone. I said “please” ;-)

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  • http://www.siliconsara.com Sara

    Hmm, I keep getting a connection error when I installed this plugin. I am guessing it’s a fsockopen error when the plugin tries to connect to kismet’s servers. I do have an API key, so that’s not the issue (not that I am led to believe =P). When I try to save my settings for SK2 I get the error. Are the kismet servers having downtime? Or is my webhost unable to make fsockopen connections? I don’t think it’s the latter, seeing as I requested the ability for remote RSS feeds to be read by magpie. (I had my webhost disable something in their php setup for magpie to be able to read remote feeds).

    Any ideas to my problem are greatly appreciated. For the ability for SK and Akismet to work together with the Bad Behavior plugin would be the ultimate cyber guard dog for any WordPress user…kinda like a personal Cerberus!

  • http://www.sebbi.de Sebbi

    Hello Sara,

    does the original Akismet Plugin works for you? This plugin for SK2 ist heavily based on that code and shouldn’t behave any different.

    If it is a real problem that the code uses the fsockopen() function, I’ll have a look at it and try to “fix this” ;-)

  • http://www.siliconsara.com Sara

    No, it doesn’t [the original kismet plugin does not work for me]. I didn’t even get to input the API code, it “hanged” when I clicked the link to get to the kismet setup page in the plugins manager and then was given a connection error, most of the time it was a “connection timed out” error. That’s why I found this plugin, because I thought it was faulty coding within the kismet plugin that my webhost settings did not agree with. I guess it is with kismet in general or my webhost just doesn’t like me =P

  • http://www.sebbi.de Sebbi

    Well, I suppose one (me) could include some error checking code and try different methods (like Curl) of reaching Akismet.

    However, you said magpie would work and as far as I know magpie also uses the fsockopen() function. So it might also be a DNS problem or something on your server?

  • http://www.siliconsara.com Sara

    This is quite weird! I remember using magpie to parse my old livejournal feed. I remember submitting a support ticket because I got the “connection failed” error in the rss_fetch magpie file. They said that they had to change something in the server’s php settings and then it worked. I eventually deleted magpie (because I deleted my LJ).

    I went ahead and downloaded magpie for the hell of it; to test and see if it was just this plugin being the culprit. Much to my surprise when the same exact error occured that long time ago when I was using magpie with my livejournal. It seems someone at my hosting provider switched the setting back…

    I think there’s some sort of security setting that is preventing any scripts from my account to contact remote servers, such as RSS feeds and of course to contact kismet.

    I guess I will need to write a new support ticket. Sorry about this, and thank you for your time. I’ll report back if it gets fixed.

  • http://www.sebbi.de Sebbi

    No problem, just let me know if it works for you after your provider changed its settings and I’ll be happy :-)

    Time to switch from BETA to FINAL since there seem to be no major errors and we don’t want to be one of these fancy web 2.0 companies with permanent betas (round corners and pastell colours would be nice though) ;-)

  • http://www.siliconsara.com Sara

    Reporting back to sadly say that my webhost doesn’t allow remote connections. They told me that the first incident was a mistake, and that the tech who handled my support ticket wasn’t allowed to set the remote connections as enabled. I am a bit fustrated, but they probably have their reasons. Someone might of exploited that feature so my host was forced to disable it.

    However, there is hope. I did notice that the RSS feed feature in the WordPress dashboard DOES work. I recieve the WordPress feeds, even though those feeds are on another server…thus it is some sort of remote connection that works!

    If there is a way to figure out how they did that, then there might be a solution for us WPers who unfortunatly have a host who disabled remote connections. I would switch hosts, but I don’t have the money right now, or I would of done it immediately and I wouldn’t have to report back the bad news *smile*

    I don’t know if my host has curl. I checked the phpinfo() and I didn’t see it…

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  • http://www.richardsilverstein.com/ Richard Silverstein

    I have a hack built into SK2 which was written by Peter Westwood which directs SK2, before it starts its spam detection on a submitted comment–to first check whether the comment is a first timer. If it IS, then SK2 automatically forces the comment into moderation, as I wish to moderate all first time comments. Without this hack, SK2 would override the normal WP comment moderation settings, one of which forces moderation for first time commenters.

    So what I’m asking is, if I install your plugin will it disable Peter Westbrook’s hack?

  • http://www.sebbi.de Sebbi

    Hello Richard,

    my plugin works like all the other SK2-filters and only modifies the karmalevel of the comment SK2 is currently checking. Peter Westwoods plugin seems to jump in after all filters/other plugins have done their work and limits the karmalevel for certain comments (first timers or whatever is specified in the wordpress admin) to something that would cause them to get thrown into moderation … so no, it will not disable other – especially Peter Westwoods – plugins :-)

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  • http://www.chivalry.net Chris

    Hmmm, I’ve been running this for a couple of weeks now. Spam Karma is working great and no spam is getting through. But it doesn’t seem to be adding negative values for any akismet checks? I see in the comments that get through that it assigns 5 points to comments that akismet blesses as spam free. But I see no such negative values or any feedback on things that are trapped as spam?

    Is this normal? Shouldn’t it be assigning a negative value to the posts that are spam?

  • http://www.sebbi.de Sebbi

    Hello Chris, to speed up things the plugin only checks the Akismet service if the Karma of the comment is not bad/good enough to be absolutely sure. In most cases of comment spam Akismet is never being contacted because Spam Karma does a wonderful job identifying it on its own :-)

  • http://slackermanager.com Bren

    Just re-downloading this after upgrading SK2 and it seems that the contents of the zip file are kinda funky. The extension is “.php.attachment00″ and it doesn’t look like a complete php file when I look at it in a text editor. SK2 doesn’t like it either.

  • http://www.sebbi.de Sebbi

    Hello Bren,
    can you tell me the name of your unzipper? It works in Winrar and Winzip and also with the linux “unzip”. There should definetly be a file named “sk2_akismet_plugin.php” inside the archive. Strange thing …

  • http://slackermanager.com Bren

    Using StuffIt Expander.

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  • http://www.preisagenturstuttgart.de Preisagentur

    Spamfilter sind natürlich eine Notwendigkeit in der heutigen Zeit, man sollte aber den Blognutzern eine Möglichkeit geben sich aus dem Filter auch entfernen zu lassen. Zeitweise kann ich nämlich nicht posten, sogar in Blogs bei denen ich schon kommentiert habe und auf neue Kommentare antworten möchte. Kann mir jemand sagen was man dagegen machen kann?

  • http://www.sebbi.de Sebbi

    Hallo “Preisagentur”,

    zunächst einmal sollte ein Kommentar nicht wie Spam wirken. Die URL auf die dein Name verlinkt z.B. ist wahrscheinlich Spam, ich lasse das aber mal so stehen.

    Du meinst wahrscheinlich die Filter von Akismet. Einmal dort als Spamer gebranntmarkt kommt man nicht mehr so schnell von dem Image weg, das stimmt schon. Auf meiner Seite bekommt jeder Mensch die Möglichkeit noch ein Captcha auszufüllen, falls die Kriterien für das Mensch sein nicht ganz erfüllt wurden … also durchaus fair, nicht?

    • Preisagentur

      Sicher Sebbi,

      das mit dem Captcha hat sich anscheinend bei dir auch geändert.

      Gruß

      • http://www.sebbi.de/ Sebastian H.

        “vor 6 Jahren” … alles ändert sich mit der Zeit

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